Image editing basics for stock photographers

Image editing basics for stock photographers

Some photographers don’t edit their photos at all before uploading them for sale, some, on the contrary, consider themselves “Photoshop users with a camera”, mostly relying on image editing to achieve good results.

Obviously, you should try to get as good an image as possible with your camera but most professionals do some post-processing to make a good image look just perfect.

All stock photo sites provide articles where they specify technical requirements for photos that they accept. It is important to follow these guidelines in order to get your images approved. All sites are looking for high-resolution photographs which comply with these requirements:

  • No excessive noise or artifacts.
  • No sensor dust / spots.
  • Good focus.
  • Proper lighting and exposure (no underexposed or overexposed photos, no overly harsh shadows or blown-out highlights).
  • No chromatic aberration (purple fringing).
  • Proper framing / composition.

Subtle post processing and retouching is encouraged, to enhance image clarity, quality and style:

  • Exposure, contrast and white balance correction.
  • Color correction.
  • Subtle sharpening and noise removal.
  • Retouching / healing.

Following these basic steps will help you to create images that comply with the quality standards established by stock photo agencies:

  1. Export image from RAW to TIFF and open it in Photoshop.
  2. Adjust levels and contrast.
  3. Check the image at 100% for sensor spots, dust, scratches, visible trademarks and imperfections on the photo. Correct if necessary.
  4. Improve colors if necessary.
  5. Use some noise reduction if necessary.
  6. Check the image at 100% for focus, and improve it if necessary.
  7. Embed IPTC data (keywords and description).
  8. Save as JPEG at maximum quality.

Some future articles we cover the details about each step – how to improve focus, colors, reduce noise, etc.